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January 13, 2010 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2010-01-13

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w !

8B The Statement // Wednesday, January 13, 2010


consider myself an expert traveler at
this point in my life. After four years
and countless flights commuting
between Philadelphia and Ann Arbor,
I've mastered the art of packing and
I can put my shoes on and my laptop
back in its case in record time.
As winter break ended last week, I
decided that despite my unshakable
skills as alonectraveler I'd still get to the
airport a little earlier, conscious of the
inevitable repercussions in the wake of
the failed Christmas-day bombing.
Check-in went off without a hitch,
vnd once I reached the front of the
security line, I was ready for my usual
routine. I took off my coat and sweat-
shirt and put my scarf and shoes in the
bins. I took out my laptop, placing it in
a separate container, and sent it down
on the conveyer belt.
I was the epitome of compliance and
wentcthroughthe detector without any
roblems. But as I reached to reclaim
my bag, a TSA officer stopped me and
wouldn't return my things.
Gay in Greek, From Page 5B
sorority as a whole would not be
okay with it.
This groupthink mentality is some-
thing that Javier said he thinks still
holds true within the Greek-letter
community today.
"I would imagine that people in fra-
ternities and sororities feel that they
todividually would be really affirm-
ing or supportive of an LGBT friend
or person, but as they got further out
from themselves, so perhaps a small
group or their chapter, or the Greek
system in general, they might feel like
it's less affirming," Javier said. "That
tends to happen in groups, so the goal
is to help us think about if everyone
hinks they're cool with it but they
also think their peers are not, then
someone has to do something.
"Whose job is it if we all say we
believe something but we don't think
the person next to us believes that?"
Ari Parritz, last year's IFC presi-
dent, said he thinks the results of the
LGBT climate survey still hold true,
tance of LGBT individuals like the
introduction and passage of same-sex
marriage legislation in some states.

He informed me that that if I
answered him truthfully, I'd be fine.
Just be honest, he said. I panicked. Had
I accidentally packed shampoo in my
carry on? Did I keep my Swiss Army
knife on my keys? I had been so careful
when packing that I couldn't imagine
what I could have done wrong.
Then he reached into my computer
case and pulled out a small baggie of
white powder. Before I continue, I'd
like to review my thought process as
he said the words "where did you get
this from?"
My first thought: I left my bag on
the floor when I was reaching for my
license to show the attendant. A terror-
ist slipped bomb-detonating powder
into my bag. The terrorist wants me
to get through security and then once
I'm airborne, he'll find me, reclaim the
substance and blow up the plane. I'm
going to be responsible for a terrorist
My second thought: This is a bag of
drugs. I have just been made part of a
"There's been gay marriage propos-
als in a variety of states since that sur-
vey, so I think maybe that influences
peoples' perceptions of how they
interact with the LGBT community,
but I don't know how much or if it
has at all," Parritz said. "I don't think
much has changed on campus."
But current IFC President Mike
Friedman said he thinks the Greek
system's view toward LGBT individu-
als is, for the most part, accepting, and
that the community's attitude toward
LGBT individuals runs contrary to
the groupthink mentality found in the
2007 survey.
"Under no circumstances would
it be acceptable for people to speak
out against that specific community,"
Friedman said. "And in fact you would
be looked down upon if you did so. So I
think as accepting as people are indi-
vidually, as strongly as people hold
their beliefs on an individual level, that
is translated to the beliefs and accep-
tance of the organization asa whole."
Parritz said that when he was IFC
president, the biggest challenge his
executive board faced while trying
to address LGBT issues within the
Greek system was garnering the sup-
port of individual chapter presidents

look on my face.
s a" x As politely as I could, I explained to
him how unfunny I thought his prank
had been and gathered my things to
leave. I was clearly outraged and upset,
yet, most of the people around me
didn't offer to help me or commented
on this completely unprofessional and
mean "prank." Two other TSA offi-
drug smuggling ring. Someone saw my cials went about their jobs and a man
open bag, dropped it in and now I'm in front of me walked away after hear-
going to jail. ing the entire ordeal. Only one woman
I immediately told him I had no idea behind me was as infuriated asme and
where the bag came from and that I followed to see if I was okay.
hadn't left my bags unattended- a I ran from the line and cried to this
cardinal sin in airport security. He let stranger who was kind enough to play
me stutter through an explanation for the role of my interim mother. I had
been terrified and dis-
"I thought: This is a b of drugs. respected by an airport
ag employee.
I have just been made part of a He'd joked about the
least funny thing in air
drug smuggling ring." travel, and through my
tears I decided to take
the longest minute of my life. Tears I asked to speak with the director
streamed down my face as I pleaded of security. The supervisor met me at
with him to understand that I'd never my gate and I explained what I'd just
seen this baggie before. experienced. I identified the employee,
But as I emotionally tried to explain who, to my shock, was not immediately
that I couldn't explain, he started to removed from the floor, and filled outa
smile, an odd reaction to such a mon- complaint form.
umental find in my things. Then he While writing my incident report,
waved the baggie at me and told me he I was told that the guard who'd done
was kidding, that I should've seen the this to me was dressed differently than

other TSA employees because his job
was to train the staff to detect bombs
and other contraband. Here was a man
at the forefront of our fight against
terror, making a joke about one of the
most serious issues facing our country
right now.
And that was it. I got on my flight
and landed safely in Ann Arbor.
Sure, the airline was apologetic, but
instant action wasn't taken. Two days
later I received a call from the airport
- only after I had first called them -
informing me that disciplinary action
had been taken.
As passengers and patrons of air-
ports, we have a lot of responsibility
to comply with airline security. Our
safety depends directly onhow well we
follow the rules. This same standard
needs to be applied to the staff.
Cooperation is necessary for suc-
cessful system operation, especially on
a scale as large as an airport. In order
to cooperate with airlines, I want to
believe that they will show me the
same respect I show them as I comply
with their rules and regulations.
One man's actions aren't enough to
tarnish the reputations of the many
hardworking airline personnel, but it
does open my eyes to how small mis-
takes can have big consequences.
- Rebecca Solomon is a
recent University graduate.
who are willing to push the surge to
work on it and who want to partici-
pate in the programming, want to
keep doing what we're doing. I think
that for any issue you're going to have
to work harder because I think people
may support something but not neces-
sarily want to act on it."
Ohlinger also said that something
more than just ally training needs to
take place to further the conversation
on the issue, and said he thinks the
most effective approach to creating
LGBT awareness in the Greek sys-
tem is not through formal training or
ally workshops, Instead, it is through
LGBT-identified peoples' coming out
to their brothers."
Ohlinger recalled what an older
brother said to him: " 'They don't
know anything. A gay guy might as
well be an alien. But they meet you
and they see you're cool, like all of a
sudden being gay isn't some weird
thing, some strange alien, not some
crazy thing they've just hear about,"
Ohlinger said. "(It's) like, oh, yeah,
that's JD, he's our friend, it doesn't
- Managing News EditoriJillian
Berman contributed to this report

and general members.
Though members of the execu-
tive boards of IFC and the Panhel-
lenic Association, an organization
comprised of lb sororities on campus,
attended the ally training workshops
last year, Parritz said no non IFC or
Panhel executive board chapter presi-
dents showed any interest in attend-
ing the training.
The Lambda Alliance, too, faces its
own challenges, Javier said, because
people who join or show an interest in
the group may face questioning about
why they care about LGBT issues.
"One of the reasons straight-iden-
tified men don't identify as allies is
because they don't want to be mistak-
e, quote unquote mistaken, as gay,"
Javier said. "They don't want to be
perceived as gay, so that's a road block
to someone who actually does care
about LGBT people."
Even with the formation of the
Lambda Alliance in 2007, there still
remains a lacking voice of out-LGBT
students in the Greek system. The fact
that there are still LGBT-identified
students who don't feel comfortable
comingoutto their fraternitybrothers
is an indicator that something more
needs to be done than programming

like ally training. Because despite get-
ting some people involved, education-
al workshops such as those tend to be
insular events that only involve a very
small percentage of Greek community
While the Lambda Alliance and
workshops are valuable tools, Javier
said, the best approach to further-
ing the awareness and acceptance of
LGBT students in the Greek system is
for people to come out as allies. Javi-
er said people need to demonstrate
openness and tolerance of LGBT indi-
viduals instead of just sitting back and
being apathetic on the issue.
"If people in the Greek community
feel like allies... (for) whatever reason;
whether they have a best friend, broth-
er, sister, cousin, uncle, aunt, parent,
whatever reason - to think about that
reason, reflect on that reason and then
come out, come out as an ally."
Claire Sabourin, the current presi-
dent of the Lambda Alliance agreed,
saying that, in her experience, apathy
was the greatest roadblock to improv-
ing the anti-LGBT perception.
"I think it's more of an apathy,"
Sabourin said. "Not about this partic-
ular issue, but about a lot of things in
general. ButI have met a lot of people

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